WCHA announces 2016-17 schedule and 140-game quest for MacNaughton Cup

Ice hockey under the lights

The WCHA announced on Thursday its 2016-17 composite schedule highlighted by the 140-game quest for the MacNaughton Cup.

The season will include six tournaments and will conclude with the debut of the new on-campus postseason.

“We are also excited for a top-notch nonconference schedule, including six prestigious tournaments and several marquee series,” said men’s commissioner Bill Robertson. “As we saw with Ferris State’s run to a Regional Final this spring, WCHA schools should, can and will compete successfully on the national stage.”

Alaska Anchorage and Alaska will host the Kendall Hockey Classic (Oct. 7-8 in Anchorage) and Brice Alaska Goal Rush (Oct. 14-15 in Fairbanks), respectively, while competing in both. Michigan Tech hosts the Great Lakes Invitational in Detroit on Dec. 29-30. The holiday season will also see Alabama Huntsville in Minneapolis for the Mariucci Classic (Dec. 30-31), Ferris State traveling to Pittsburgh for the Three Rivers Classic (Dec. 29-30) and Northern Michigan venturing to Estero for the Florida College Hockey Classic (Dec. 28-29). Finally, Bemidji State will look to play in its third-consecutive North Star College Cup championship game when the Beavers return to the Xcel Energy Center the weekend of Jan. 27-29.

Nonconference opponents and tournaments:

  • Alabama Huntsville: at Connecticut, at St. Cloud State, Mariucci Classic (opponents TBA)
  • Alaska Anchorage: Kendall Hockey Classic (opponents TBA), Brice Alaska Goal Rush (vs. Omaha and vs. Canisius), at Penn State
  • Alaska: Kendall Hockey Classic (opponents TBA), Brice Alaska Goal Rush (vs. Canisius and vs. Omaha), at Notre Dame
  • Bemidji State: at North Dakota, Princeton, Minnesota Duluth (home-and-home), North Star College Cup (potential opponents are Minnesota, Minnesota Duluth and St. Cloud State)
  • Bowling Green: Western Michigan (home-and-home), Ohio State (home-and-home), at Miami, RIT (single game, in Toledo), Mercyhurst (single game)
  • Ferris State: Western Michigan (home-and-home), Michigan (single game), Michigan State (home-and-home), Three Rivers Classic (vs. Robert Morris, vs. either Boston College or Quinnipiac)
  • Lake Superior State: Michigan State, at Michigan, at Omaha
  • Michigan Tech: at Minnesota Duluth, at Michigan, at Michigan State, Great Lakes Invitational (Michigan, vs. either Michigan State or Western Michigan), at Notre Dame
  • Minnesota State: St. Cloud State, Minnesota (home-and-home), at Princeton
  • Northern Michigan: Wisconsin (two-game series in Green Bay, two game series at Madison), Omaha, Florida College Hockey Classic (potential opponents are Colorado College, Cornell and Merrimack)

Alabama Huntsville at Ferris State opens the season on Oct. 1-2. With the 2017 WCHA postseason moving to a three-round, on-campus format, the final weekend of the regular season – featuring rivalry series for each school – was moved up to Feb. 24-25.

All 21 regular-season weekends, including the Dec. 30-Jan. 1 holiday weekend, feature at least one WCHA matchup. There are only four weekends with a full slate of five WCHA series: Dec. 3-4, Dec. 9-10, Jan. 20-21 and when the regular season concludes Feb. 24-25.

Each member institution will play a total of 28 WCHA games (14 at home and 14 on the road). Teams play five other league members four times each and four others two times each.

The top eight teams from the WCHA regular season will qualify for the postseason. The 2017 WCHA Playoffs will consist of four best-of-three series hosted by the league’s top four regular-season finishers as of March 4-5, followed by two best-of-three semifinal series on March 11-12 hosted by the highest remaining seeds.

The 2017 WCHA Championship will be a single game, hosted by the highest remaining seed, on March 18.